Peyton Manning once said in a commercial, “That guy’s pretty good if you like 6-5, 230-pound quarterbacks. Laser-rocket arm.” Manning was jokingly referring to himself. However, most programs would immediately sign up for a 6’5, 220-pound athlete with a cannon arm and an IQ to match.
So why is James Morgan on his second school and in the midst of his second quarterback competition? The mystery is in the details and for FIU head coach Butch Davis, cracking that case could be the key to back-to back bowl trips for the Panthers.
The Green Bay, Wisconsin, native came to Bowling Green as the prize recruit of former coach Dino Babers’ 2015 class. However, Morgan’s time at Bowling Green was enigmatic at best.
As a redshirt freshman, he threw for over 2,000 yards and a BGSU freshman record 16 touchdowns in seven starts. However, he regressed the next season and after an 0-3 start, Morgan was benched in favor of freshman Jarret Doege. In seven contests, Morgan threw nine touchdowns, but along with those scores came 10 turnovers.
In order for Morgan to take the next step he must become more accurate. He’s had too many stat lines that include multiple touchdown passes with a 50 percent completion percentage. In 17 games with over 10 passing attempts, he’s only completed above 60 percent of his passes three times.
Panther fans have heard this story before. A talented QB has flashes of success but isn’t consistent enough to win games. That quarterback was four-year starter Alex McGough.
He went from being a promising freshman, to being benched twice in 2016 by former head coach Ron Turner. Entering 2017 it was unclear just which player would show up.
Butch Davis made McGough earn the starting job back, to which he responded by being an all-conference Honorable Mention and a 7th round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2018 NFL draft.
Morgan will face competition from redshirt junior Christian Alexander and redshirt freshman Kaylan Wiggins. Neither quarterback possesses the 18 games worth of experience like Morgan does.
It’s worth noting that Morgan was recruited to BGSU to run the Baylor style offense that Dino Babers employed. But one year later, Babers left for Syracuse, and Morgan was in an “Air Raid” style offense that current Falcons head coach Mike Jinks runs.
A fresh start and a new head coach that caters their system to his play could be just what he needs.
FIU offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky has experience with MAC quarterbacks. At Ball State he helped turn quarterback Keith Wenning from an inconsistent freshman, to the program’s all-time leader in every major passing category.
Turn on the tape of his highlights and there’s no question that the former four-star recruit has the physical talent. Everyone who has dealt with him raves about Morgan’s integrity and character as a person. So much so that he was allowed full use of BGSU’s athletic facilities to train while searching for a new team.
Morgan will arrive in Biscayne Bay as a college graduate in three years with a degree in pre-law, so there’s no denying that the intelligence is there.
At his disposal will be a talented and veteran receiving core, who will be eager to show they can replace the production of three-year starter Thomas Owens. He’ll also have a stable of proven running backs behind him.
For FIU to repeat last year’s success, it’ll depend on if Butch and Skrosky can turn potential into reality with James Morgan.